Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stevil Knevil from How to Avoid the Bummer Life/Swobo

If you are not a regular reader of the How to Avoid the Bummer Life blog start now. The manifesto of "riding bikes and living large" will warm even the hardest hearts and Stevil's posts have brightened many a dreary day here. Then there is the quality duds of Swobo. They came back from the grave and the world is a better place for it. Stevil was down to answer some questions so here we go.

WWDIS:What is your role at Surly? (edit-smooth, I was so stoked he said yes to an interview I ask him about a company he doesn't work for! Thankfully he didn't end it here!)
HTATBL:Well, my role at Surly is guiding light and never faltering inspiration, but I will assume that you meant what is my role at Swobo which is fairly simple. I pack boxes, I return emails, I shake hands and kiss babies. Of course Ive been at the helm of the Bummer Life for two years at the end of May, so I suppose that would be sort of a public relations title. Im a sounding board, an art director, and a shoulder to cry on. I also am probably the one whos responsible for the most complaining, which is important. I complain alot.

WWDIS:How did you end up immersed in the bike world?
HTATBL:Indirectly, I guess would be the best way to answer that question. I went to school and received a Bachelors in fine art, and shortly after graduation began a long stint as a bicycle messenger in The East Bay and San Francisco. Id had a long relationship with bicycles through school and it just ended up making sense to me that I wasnt going to make a living in the art world, so I might as well make a living doing the other thing I loved. Through messengering and mountain bike racing I met the original crew at Swobo, and through them, I met the entire bicycle underworld. I was embraced and never looked back.

WWDIS:First bike?
HTATBL:A total bucket with an indian painted on the chain guard that was a hand me down. Then my folks bought me a generic BMX bike which I adorned with tons of cool parts.. Sort of the equivalent of getting a Yugo and putting spinners and a multi-coat opalescent paint job on it. Eventually I worked all summer and bought myself a Kuwahara. Not the Lazerlite, cause I couldn't afford that one. The Nova I think it was called. I eventually got into skateboarding, and the bike got dusty, but then in college I got a Fisher which rekindled my love for two wheels.

WWDIS:Based on your new Vans post and your Circle A color scheme you seem to have a fondess for SE Racing, What was your favorite bike from their glorydays? Were you more of a Greg Hill or a Ceppie Maes?
HTATBL:Stu Thompson, and Mike Buff all the way.

WWDIS:Besides the Kuwahara did you have any other favorite BMX bikes?
HTATBL:SE, hands down, but I could never afford one.

WWDIS:Top Ten all time favorite bands/records?
HTATBL:Fugazi- "Repeater"
The Afghan Whigs- "Up In It"
The Fluid- "Punch and Judy"
Rocket From The Crypt- "Scream Dracula Scream"
The Dirtbombs- "Dangerous Magical Noise"
Drive Like Jehu- self titled
The Refused- "The Shape of Punk to Come
Iron and Wine- "Our Endless Numbered Days"
Shellac- "At Action Park"
But you know, I look at this and this really only covers my favorite albums of the last 10 to 15 years. Even though I dont listen to Andrew Lloyd Webbers "Jesus Christ Superstar", its one of the first pieces of music I ever remember hearing as a child, and therefore would be counted as one of my favorites. The Beach Boys "Endless Summer" is another one. Its albums like those that stand the test of time. In 30 more years, Id imagine they'll still be there, where as the top ten list I gave you might be nowhere in sight...

WWDIS:Current rotation?
HTATBL:TV on The Radio- "Return to Cookie Mountain"
Smile- "Maquee"
Russian Circles- "Station"
The Police- "Outlandos d'Amour"
Planes Mistaken for Stars- "Mercy"
Prince and the Revolution- "Purple Rain"
Les Savy Fav- "The Cat and The Cobra"
Justin Timberlake- "Justified" (As embarrassed as I probably should be about this, his first album that was produced by Pharrell is really good.) When I bought it, I had a bunch of black metal CDs in the purchase as well, and the guy behind the counter I could tell was bending his brain in an attempt to figure out what was going on.
The Dwarves- "How to win friends and influence people"

WWDIS:Favorite band or album to play while working on your bike?
HTATBL:The only thing I listen to when I'm on the rollers is Mastodons "Blood Mountain", working on bikes, I'll play whatever's handy.

WWWDIS:Music-did you start out as metal head, punk, or what? What were you into as a kid?
HTATBL:I first learned of punk rock when I was in fifth grade, and it just spiraled downhill from there. I spent a lot of time very narrow minded as far as my musical preferences were concerned. As far as I was concerned, if it wasn't punk rock, then it sucked. I still have a grand appreciation for guitar driven noisy rock, but my dad was a music teacher, and he opened my ears to everything which obviously had a long term influence to just enjoy what sounds the best to me, whether it be bubblegum pop, or jazz and everything in between.
There was a whole lot of really good music made just before or during my narrow minded stage that Im still scrambling to add to my collection, and I still marvel when, for example I listened to a Joe Jackson song ('Throw it away'). the other day and I was stunned how much it sounded like The Hellacopters, or how much the early Bad Seeds sound like Scratch Acid, or even similarities between KISS and Urge Overkill. Its alot of fun discovering old music all over again.

WWDIS:When did you start to go see bands? Where?
HTATBL:I grew up in a small town in Colorado, and the local Kiwanas Club let us have the first and only punk show to ever happen in Evergreen at that time. There were alot of pissed off men wearing fez hats that night. So generally wed go to Denver to see shows, but there was a big problem with skinheads at that time, and it seems like more times then not, what started out as a good time, always degenerated into somebody getting their ass kicked.

WWDIS:Best show/favorite live band?
HTATBL:The best shows Ive ever seen were a handful of Fluid shows back in the early 90s, The Afghan Whigs at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco in 1992, Monster Magnet at The Independent last year, The first show Turbonegro played stateside after they got back together, which was a private affair that only a couple hundred folks were allowed to attend, Mudhoney at The Kennel Club, and Urge Overkill at The Kennel Club both in 1991, and despite the fact that they all are total douchebags, a secret Metallica show in this little hole in the wall bar about four years ago.
Finally, I think that it was about three years ago Todd Trainer from Shellac approached me about doing an installation of paintings at a two night engagement in San Francisco. Hands down it was the highlight of my art career...Watching this band thats comprised of individuals who individually and as a group have provided the soundtrack for my work for over 20 years. They asked me if I wanted to go on the road to Seattle and Portland with them and do similar installations at those shows, but I was involved in doing all of the artwork for the new Moots Bicycles catalog, and had I gone, would have only given me six days to do the catalog instead of twelve, which was cutting it pretty close as it was, so I had decline, but the two nights I did have with them were amazing.

WWDIS:Based on your time frame and location. Did you ever see/like/have a good story about Drunk Injuns,Hemi, Rip-Offs, J-Church, or Fuel? Some SF/East Bay favorites of WWDIS.
HTATBL:Noting really for Fuel, J-Church or the Rip, Offs but I was able to catch a show at The Bottom of the Hill several years ago with Los Olvidados, Free Beer and The Drunk Injuns. It was skate rock in its finest form, and I never really recovered.
Hemi too.. I dont know what happened to those cats. They all just kinda fell off the face of the earth.
Though Im reasonably sure JMac would probably know....

WWDIS:All time favorite frame/part/tool?
HTATBL:Anything made out of steel, Campy high flange track hubs, Campy peanut butter wrenches, and Surly 15mm keychain wrench, and the Park frame alignment gauge, which in their catalog is listed by the item number 'FAG-1'.

WWDIS:How did you get into the bike industry and what made you focus on wool gear back in the early days?
HTATBL:Refer to answer #2 for the first part of the question, and as far as wool goes, I suppose Ive always been attracted to the first version of anything that is developed. I was the last person to get toe straps, then the last person to get clipless pedals, and the last person to get a suspension fork... I want to see the worth of something proven before I dive headlong into it. The same goes for medicine, or medical practices, or kitchen appliances, CD players.. You name it. I like what was the best, until something comes along that truly is superior. 'The first mousetrap' as it were, has rarely been disproven to me to be inferior to its successors.

WWDIS:Cyclocross cable routing? Should they all run along the top tube or are you OK with downtube routing?
HTATBLL:As long as I dont have cables digging into my shoulder, I dont care where they go.

WWDIS:Internal cable routing? Friend of Foe?
HTATBL:I think it looks rad, but running a cable through there can occasionally use the unwavering concentration that only smoking pot can provide, and since I say nope to dope, I dont have the attention span.

WWDIS:Worst cycling innovation of the last few years?
HTATBL:Rock Racing.

WWDIS:What is your take on the newish non messenger fixed gear scene? The post-skateboard crowd. (My 2 cents is props to John Cardiel and forget the rest-have you seen his documentary on Vice? Sick)
HTATBL:I think its amazing. I love that the bicycle is having such a huge renaissance, and anyone who gets their panties in a bunch when it comes to the status quo being critical of the movement, it seems to me is just experiencing insecurity based on the fact that they might be someone whos in the process establishing their individuality. No one wants to have their scene picked apart or coopted, so messengers are pinched that something they started has gained popularity, and hipsters are pinched that their getting mixed up with hipsters that are even newer to the scene, and everybody is making fun of everybody, but at the end of the day, its just people on bikes, and what kind of bike it is, I personally could care less about. It strikes me as just a bunch of primadona bullshit.
And I haven't seen much about John since his accident. Its good to hear that hes getting back in the mix.

WWDIS:Do you have any hording/collecting issues with parts or records or any other thing?
HTATBL:I have powerful OCD so when I find something that works, I get as many of them as I can, because inevitably, (And partially based on this societies fascination with whats 'newer and better', the item in question will eventually be discontinued and replaced with one that I dont care for.)
In no particular order, these are some things I love and hoard;
7" records
Vinyl records
Sanford Uniball Micro pens
Rotring .05 mechanical pencils (they used to replace my pencil every time it broke, and the last time they said they couldnt because the pencil was discontinued, so began my Ebay quest to procure as many of them as I could. I was getting them sent to me from as far away as France. I really love those pencils.)
As previously mentioned, Campy high flanged track hubs.
Carumba double barrel cranks.
The old stretchy wool Swobo hats..
Off the top of my head thats all I can think of.
I appreciate you contacting me to take part in this. Im looking at my own reflection, and Id be lying if I said Im not absolutely crazy with what I see. My 7th grade guidance councilor was right.
I really am a tremendous individual.

Thanks Stevil!
I made it through all that without asking about the OG Bio-Ohion Rob Roskopp. How the hell did I overlook that?????

1 comment:

fomenter said...

Nice interview. I am a reader of Stevil's bloggings which is how I got here. But what I really want to express, is my appreciation for another bike related blog that's rep'n hip hop too. Good to see.